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CityAirbus performs first untethered flight

Airbus has launched untethered flight testing of its full-scale CityAirbus eVTOL.

The company shared video of the 2.2-tonne aircraft in hovering flight at its facilities in Donauwörth, Germany, reporting that the demonstrator started free flight testing at the end of 2019. CityAirbus performed its first tethered flight test in May 2019.

The fully electric four-seat multicopter is one of two eVTOL technical demonstrators that Airbus has  revealed publicly. The other, Vahana, concluded its flight test campaign in November 2019.

CityAirbus untethered flight
Airbus said that CityAirbus’s four-passenger capacity is ideal for aerial urban ridesharing. Airbus Screenshot

CityAirbus features four ducted high-lift propulsion units, each containing a pair of fixed-pitch propellers 2.8 meters (nine feet) in diameter. These eight propellers are driven by eight 100 kW electric motors at around 950 rpm to ensure a low acoustic footprint, the company said, adding that the aircraft has a single failure tolerant architecture to ensure safety.

The demonstrator has a battery capacity of 110 kWh and a projected top speed of 120 kilometers per hour (74 miles per hour). It will be capable of flying autonomously for up to 15 minutes.

Airbus said that a subscale model of CityAirbus has already performed more than 100 test flights, which has proven the aerodynamic configuration of the full-scale prototype. The demonstrator will be used to gather insights that will inform the development of Airbus’s next eVTOL aircraft.

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